IRVING, Texas – For nearly two decades, Wayne Weaver had about any seat he wanted at EverBank Field. That will change now.
Not that Weaver won’t be around for Jaguars games. He said he won’t merely have season tickets moving forward, he’ll have a suite at EverBank.
What he won’t be now is the owner of the Jaguars.
That became official early Wednesday afternoon at the Four Seasons Resort, when Weaver’s sale of the Jaguars to Illinois businessman Shahid Khan received unanimous approval from the NFL’s 32 owners.
The team is expected to officially transfer ownership in early January.
Weaver since announcing plans in late November to sell to Khan several times has used the term “bittersweet” to describe the process.
He said Wednesday may have been the bittersweetest day yet.
“For 18 years I’ve been consumed by this,” Weaver said.
This was late Wednesday afternoon, hours after he and Khan had stood before the media discussing the approval. It was also moments after Weaver had walked out of a general session of a league meeting for a final time.
“It’s hard when you see so many friends who have been supportive over the years that you have developed a relationship with,” Weaver said. “It’s hard not to be a little emotional as I’m walking away from all this.”
During the mid-afternoon news conference, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell thanked Weaver for his tenure in Jacksonville.
“I was working on the expansion process in 1993 when we selected Jacksonville and there was a tremendous focus on ownership and the quality of ownership, and that certainly is Wayne Weaver,” Goodell said. “And he has done that throughout his 18 years of ownership. He has been an extraordinary owner not just for Jacksonville but for the NFL and we’re grateful to both he and Delores and his family for all they’ve done for the NFL.”
Other owners also expressed appreciation for Weaver’s service to the NFL.
“Wayne has been a great owner,” New York Giants Owner John Mara said. “He’s been loyal to Jacksonville. He has been a tremendous contributor to many league committees. He’s somebody we’re going to miss.”
Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones spoke of Weaver’s contributions as the head of the Properties Committee, as well as the ideas that Weaver introduced to the league in terms of branding.
“It disappoints me (that Weaver is leaving) because he was a real asset to the league, but he did it right, and he really brought a very qualified person to the table in Mr. Khan,” Jones said. “He helped us make decisions over the years that are really good for us today, so he made a real contribution.”
Weaver on Wednesday said what he said two weeks before in announcing the move – that what made it easy to live with the decision was that it was not only the right time, but that Khan was the right person for new ownership.
“In my heart, I know it’s the right thing,” Weaver said. “It’s the right thing for our family and it’s the right thing for Jacksonville. . . . The reason the timing was now is I found the right person I was comfortable with to continue this legacy we started.”
Weaver has been the majority owner since the team’s inception, having been crucial to the team’s successful bid for an expansion franchise in 1994. The team has a 137-132 regular-season record during his tenure as owner.
The Jaguars have made six post-season appearances, with appearances in the AFC Championship game following the 1996 and 1999 seasons.
“It’s been a great 18 years,” Weaver said. “As you can imagine, it’s hard to break away from the National Football League. It s bittersweet, but it’s the right time. The most important thing is I found a family that’s going to come in and continue to build the legacy in Jacksonville that we started 18 years ago.
“I feel great about that and that was of primary importance to us. I really feel great about handing over the leadership of Jacksonville to Shad and finishing the job of bringing a championship to Jacksonville.”